Saturday, February 19, 2005

Abacos – Royal Island – Rose Island February 2005

Feb. 1, 2005 We were watching the weather window, and predicted Tues (today) and Wednesday we should have 10-15 winds from the North to North East, with NE swells in the ocean 6 - 10 ft. A little larger than we would like. Then on Thursday, there is another Low coming in from Florida, 25-30 knots for the weekend. The trip to Royal Island is 50 miles, so averaging 5 knots we should be able to get there in 10 hours. Daybreak is about 630 and sunset is Now you see RAFT1800 -- we should be able to do it, anchor up to Now you don'tanchor down in daylight.
RAFT seen through Steelaway's port This morning at 615 we raised our anchor and sails, and motor/sailed out the cut and were in the ocean by 645 The cut was no problem and the ocean was as predicted NE 10-15 5-8 ft swells. We have arrived at Royal Island, anchor down by 1700. The winds were up to 20Knots and the swells over 10' but since it is all from the stern, we are made good speed, and sailed the majority of it.

It was a great ocean passage, probably the best we have done so far. Now we will take our time exploring Royal Island, Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, before making the jump over to Rose Island (near Nassau) to go done the Exuma chain to Georgetown. Of course we have to wait for this messy weather to go through this weekend, but the anchorage here in Royal Island is 360 degree protected. Just hope it warms up soon, and we can get back in the water.

Royal Island anchorage Feb 4/05 We are sitting in a totally protected anchorage, enclosed by Royal Island, which is just northwest of Eleuthera Island. There are about a dozen boats here, about half of them Canadian including Steelaway and La Voile au Vent.

Yesterday was just a fantastic day. Bev baked bread and chelsea buns, using her mom's recipe, and flour tortillas. We were completely out of bread and the nearest store is about 5 miles away in Spanish Wells. After the baking was finished and RAFT tidied up, the gang headed over to a little sand beach (by dinghy) for a picnic lunch and afternoon at the beach. We went snorkleing over what Ron thought was a wreck, turned out to be an underwater forklift truck, how it got there, who knows. At the beach, there were makeshift picnic tables, a couple of recliner chairs, a hammock, bbq and firepit, everything you need. Out of the wind, the sun was wonderful and the seas calm. Boys and their cars
Bev relaxingRoss relaxing Fresh water will get increasingly more difficult to obtain and more expensive the further south we go, so we are definitely in conservation mode. Right now, it looks like it is raining in Spanish Wells, and the front is due to pass by anytime now. Hopefully we can catch enough fresh water to do laundry, shower, etc. The winds are due to pickup to 20 knots and should shift from the west to the north/northwest. The man in the next boat just came over, to discuss our proximity to his boat, in case things get real windy. We should be okay, we have 100 ft of chain attached to our 20kg anchor in 8 ft of water, but we aren't leaving RAFT with the approaching front. Until now, we have never dragged, but there is always a first…We are able to get good weather reports on the SSB and are really happy that we put in the radio system. The front went through, we all swung, everthing was fine. But the next morning as we were sitting having breakfast, we started to drag and we don’t know what caused the anchor to fail. We have been told that there are a lot of old mooring anchors from a previous mooring field, maybe we caught on something. But now we can’t say “we have never draggerd”…happens to everyone out here.

We expect we will stay in Royal Island for the weekend, then move over to Spanish Wells, to get gas for the dinghy. We upgraded the dinghy motor in Marsh Harbor, to an new Johnson 8hp (2 cycle) It doesn't weigh much more than the 4hp, but we should be able to plane with 2 in the dink once it is broken in. The only negative, it drinks more gas, Ross already ran out of gas once, and Pete (Steelaway) had to tow him back. He could have rowed, but Pete was there to lend a hand. I certainly feel much better, having the bigger motor, We can handle the stronger winds and the longer distances we want to travel.

It didn’t rain, but we did discover the old water cisterns on Royal Island. We took our pails, and dirty bodies and laundry and washed up on shore. The ruins on Royal Island are immense. In a previous time there were huge residences, large kitchen and dining areas, barns, garages and homes for the help. Now the island is stocked with wild bore and the hunters come regularly. We wear bright clothes and make a lot of noise as we explore the island. Ruins on Royal IslandBev & Ron in the kitchen

Next stop: Spanish Wells an immaculate fishing village just north of Eulthera. We were able to anchor outside, and go and explore. This town is well off, and it shows. Large well looked after homes, fenced gardens, double garages, fancy cars (on a small island with no where to go) and lots of fishing and lobstering boats. And its dry…. no alcohol

Fast ferry coming from NassauBev & Kathy walking in Spanish Wells

clean cute homes in Spanish WellsFeb 8th.05 Looks like we will have a down wind sail to Rose Island. We had to dodge the fast ferry from Nassau, as we left Spanish Wells. Great sail, main only, but things got scary as we approached the cut into Rose Island. Steelaway was in the lead, and radioed back “its white water, everywhere” but the Explorer waypoints were right on and we ducked in safely, and anchored in Bottom Harbour, Rose Island, as per Van Sant’s instructions. We had been inspired by his book to make this trip– the Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South, and we finally were on his track.

White water welcomes us through the cut to Rose IslandSafely anchored Bottom Harbour, Rose Island